Festival of Peace
Independence Day got its start in Philadelphia in 1777. The city recognized the one-year anniversary of Congress's formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence by lighting bonfires, ringing bells, and setting off fireworks on July 4. In later years, other cities followed suit.
Since then, communities across the United States have celebrated America's independence in their own distinct ways. Washington, D.C., marked July 4, 1919, with a Festival of Peace that came shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I.
The celebration featured music and parades, and it drew people representing dozens of nations from around the world. A National Geographic Society float, above, was part of the festivities.
—Jane J. Lee